I found myself thinking and praying this afternoon for the many participants who are currently working through Stage 2 of The Emerging Journey. And along the way I remembered a story that I shared a few years back in an online meditation for The Joshua Foundation. So here’s the balloon story, a story told for all those walking through the narrative process this fall.
August 1, 2005 — So I was driving the other day and a blue balloon floated at a distance across my line of vision. Some one hundred feet or more above the freeway, the balloon with its string-tail drifted from my right to my left and I said to myself, That balloon has a story. It must. It has come from somewhere. There is a story with that balloon. And I
remembered another balloon story.
Two summers ago my dad and I were leaning against a car in the front of my sister and brother-in-law’s home in Broomall, Pennsylvania. It was the afternoon of July 4th and we were a bit tired after having partaken in all the fun and heat and noise and food of the morning’s parade festivities. We were listening to my six-year-old niece, Sarah, chat on about what she enjoyed most from the parade. Details of fire engines and cotton candy and convertibles and parade floats filled her speech. She was interrupted when her four-year-old sister, Bekah, came skipping and whirling around the corner of the house, proudly swinging a red balloon. She stopped in front of us and posed with a big smile. She held onto the string of the balloon floating a few feet above her head.
I think we all had the same thought because my dad asked, “Bekah, that sure is a beautiful balloon. Can I tie it to your wrist so you don’t lose it?”
“Nope.” And off she spun with her smile and her red balloon trailing behind her, returning around the corner of the house, out of our sight.
After which Sarah remarked, “She’s going to lose that balloon.”
I just got a look at this short video yesterday. A group of Emerging Journey participants at Tabernacle Presbyterian Churchin Indianapolis gathered to share via film their experience. It is such a clear and encouraging reflection of what this eight-month spiritual formation process can invite in people’s lives. Take a look at their conversation. Wonderful!
Last week twenty-seven of us gathered together in Sioux Falls for a retreat. By the end of our two days together we realized we were no ordinary group of twenty-seven people. We became a remarkable community of brothers and sisters in need of some space, perspective, words, silence and friendship. The theme for our gathering was “A Sacred Heart.” The hope for the gathering can be heard in David’s prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me (Ps 51:10).
There are no shortage of things that get us entangled and snared along the way of this deal we call ministry. This unusual gathering of saints had plenty of tangles and snares to share, but more so plenty of presence, experience and from time to time a word or two to offer. Continue reading →
When I completed my seminary work and entered my first role as an ordained pastor, one of the things that became eminently clear were the limitations to the preparation I had received for ministry. Hermeneutics, biblical studies, systematic theology and sermon preparation, were important skills that seminary had done an excellent job in preparing me. However, it was the ‘work’ of leadership and my on-going spiritual formation that seemed to be at the forefront of what the church was demanding from me in my new found role as a pastor. Continue reading →
Today BrianSteenhoek and I facilitated a webinar called, “Discipleship: The Critical Need in Leadership Development Today.” It seemed to scratch an itch from the responses of those who attended. We thought we would offer you a condensed version of some of our notes here. Continue reading →
2012. A new year. Resolutions. Decisions. Choices to be made.
It helps to have a plan. And equally important, it helps to have guiding statements that inform that plan.
Whether you are making resolutions, new decisions, or reexamining your ministry, a clear understanding of who you are, who God is, and what God desires to do through you, is fundamental to making the kinds of decisions and plans that match your temperament, passion and values in service to God. Continue reading →
We recently had a VP3 staff team day, complete with Christmas party. One of the things we did was share stories about the people we have encountered this past year through the ministry of VP3…people who have been gifts to us. They have given to us the gift of knowing a little more of their story of change toward becoming the person God has intended them to be…a person with new hope to live more incarnationally…becoming a gift to others in Jesus’ name.
Sometimes we sit back in amazement at how the Lord has used what seems like our “two-fish-and-five-loaves” to help deepen and empower so many good people in various communities across North America. Continue reading →
In the classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey spends his entire life giving up his ‘big dreams’ for the good of his town, Bedford Falls.
But on Christmas Eve, he is broken and suicidal over the misplacing of an $8000 loan and the scheming of the evil millionaire, Mr. Potter. His guardian angel, Clarence, falls to Earth, literally, and shows him how his town, family, and friends would turn out if he had never been born. George realizes that he has touched many people in a positive way and that his life has truly been a wonderful one. Continue reading →
When someone is in a place of confusion, frustration, pain…a season of disorientation, will we have the courage to enter in?
Most of us are consumed with our own issues, our own agendas. We are often too busy, too important, or too insecure to concern ourselves with someone else’s pain, someone else’s story. What if we were to step out of ourselves for a moment? What if we were to enter the pain, confusion, or lostness of another? Would we find that our narcissistic obsession with ourselves might be put on hold, at least for a brief time? Would we realize we can become the kind of person we may be waiting, or longing for–a caring, understanding friend? Continue reading →
Meditating is a very human process. We meditate all the time.
We each have a capacity to pay deep attention to things and people. The critical question is not whether or not we meditate, but rather what are we meditating upon? Keri Wyatt puts it this way,
If we spend time listening to MTV or reading People magazine, that’s what we are meditating on, even if we don’t think of it as meditating. If we repeatedly hear something, our mind will retain it. Think of how many song lyrics you’ve memorized, simply by hearing songs on the radio. Meditation begins with repetition, to think about something, even on a subconscious level. And that is what will shape our souls and thoughts, even actions.What we focus on and think about, even passively, affects us. Ultimately, it forms us. 
Our minds and memories are designed to hold onto the things we pay attention to. As the saying goes, “What the mind repeats, it retains.” And it is these things we hold onto that form us and shape us. Continue reading →